Saturday, December 18, 2004

Kosovo government pledges to speed up return of refugees

The coordinators of the Standards implementation in the municipalities and Kosova [Kosovo] ministries have discussed the possibilities for speeding up the fulfilment of the Standards laid down by the international community. It was said at the meeting that the return of displaced persons and decentralisation are among the key Standards that require considerable effort.

[Reporter] The return of displaced persons is one of the most important Standards set out by the international community, said the participants at the meeting of the coordinators for Standards at all levels of government. They discussed the assignment of concrete responsibilities for speeding up the process of fulfilment of the Standards.

Minister of Local Government Lutfi Haziri said that the coordinators have started working intensively on building the strategy for the return of displaced persons.

[Lutfi Haziri] As a member of the government cabinet who assumed responsibility for leading this group, I will work actively with the municipal presidents, civic society and all mechanisms that could create an environment where every Kosova citizens returns to their property, their home, to live in a normal place such as Kosova.

[Reporter] The temporary head of the Kosova Association of Municipalities, Ismet Beqiri, spoke of the determination of the municipalities to successfully accomplish the responsibilities resulting from the plan on Standards for Kosova.

[Ismet Beqiri] The year ahead is a year of challenges and we are ready and willing this is also in the interest of Kosova and its citizens to fulfil the Standards so that the international community ultimately treats Kosova as somewhere that has its place among European countries, as a free and independent country.

[Reporter] As far as the decentralisation of the local government goes, the government and municipal representatives said they favoured a process that will not be accomplished along ethnic lines, but a process that will facilitate the improvement of the lives of all Kosova citizens regardless of their ethnic background.

[Lutfi Haziri] We are working at an expert level to finalise the criteria for the selection of municipalities that will carry out the initial pilot project of this reform, although the lessons we have learned from the region have shown that these processes are never completed and often fail. We do not wish to make the same mistakes. We will work slowly and carefully and we want to prove that the reform will be a long process, but nevertheless a good one and acceptable for Kosova.

[Reporter] The meeting of municipal and government coordinators on the Standards was organized by the Kosova Association of Municipalities.

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